By Editorial Board | October 15, 2016 | Cleveland.com
onna M. Coury is a versatile, accomplished, high-energy woman who says the concerns about Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court that led her to run for judge were reinforced by her own recent unsatisfactory experience during her divorce.
But Coury picked the wrong opponent for her tilt at judicial windmills in sitting Judge Diane M. Palos.
Whatever inefficiencies have existed in the Domestic Relations Court – and there have been many – Palos has been part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Palos, 56, a Democrat, was appointed as judge in 2009, soon after a critical Plain Dealer series about dysfunction in the court had prompted Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer to conduct an exhaustive investigation. That review resulted in more than 90 recommendations.
Palos was new as a judge but not new in the court – having served as magistrate for 23 years prior to her appointment.
Less than a year later, her peers elected her administrative judge. For the next five years, she oversaw wholesale improvements in the court’s operation, to the point where in 2013 she received a commendation from the current chief justice, Maureen O’Connor.
Palos has led the way in such things as expanding the number of interpreters in the court so that people fully understand the life-changing agreements they are making; expanding the court’s assistance for people who are victims of domestic violence; and upgrading efforts to make the court more accessible to the growing number of people who file for divorce without lawyers.
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Coury, 54, a Republican, began her career in the pharmaceutical industry in sales and marketing. When she turned to the law, she graduated magna cum laude from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1999, went into private practice, then for nine years worked as an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
Currently she runs her own consulting firm that provides fundraising and marketing advice for nonprofits. She says she has worked her whole adult life with organizations that help families and children in crisis.
However, the four local bar associations that issue “Judge4yourself” ratings each gave Palos “excellent” ratings, while rating Coury “unqualified.” Coury labels that a bias toward incumbents and maintains that her varied resume would allow a fresh approach to the bench.
She fails to make the case against Palos, however.
Diane M. Palos has a solid record of competence, achievement and integrity, and the proven ability to handle needed change at the court. Voters should give her another six years on the bench. Early voting for the Nov. 8 election has begun.